Raise your hand if you have ever been angry at someone for praising your efforts – your work – your investment. Raise your hand if you have ever been annoyed because you received a thank you note. Raise your hand if you were ever offended by an email inviting you to lunch or coffee. Raise your hand if you have ever been upset because someone told you “good job.”

I suspect not one person has a hand up.  Now ask WHY? Why are there certain acts of kindness that are not subject to misinterpretation, misapplication, misunderstanding? WHY?

I’ll tell you why… compliments are hardly subject to critique. It is because every person has feelings and we want to be valued and RECOGNIZED. It’s also okay. Wanting to be accepted is universal. Wanting to be included is universal. Feeling valued is universal. Humanity is inescapable.

Constructive criticism coupled with positive reinforcement is true leadership. If a leader cannot identify positive qualities in each person on the team, then I have questions for the leader. How is her intuition? How is her foresight? Does she have vision?

True leaders see their own flaws too. However, they couch their flaws with self-confidence. The two can co-exist. In fact, in strong leaders, they always do.

Now, how do YOU go about practicing the art of appreciation? Keep it simple and do it often.  As the leader of a busy civil litigation law firm, there are several ways I appreciate my staff, colleagues, and clients:

  • Send a handwritten thank you note – yes, with an address and a stamp.

  • Write an email with encouraging words such as, “you are a valued team member,” or “the extra effort you are putting forth is noticed,” or “I have heard good things about your work from the client.”

  • Give a team member a shout out during a group meeting – admit it, it feels good.

  • Regularly and verbally remind a client how valued their relationship and business are to you.

We all forget the small things unless we are the recipients of the encouragement. Then we never forget. Now ask yourselves this – “Who am I?”

Then, make it happen.

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